Curious about Presidential History? Ask a Curator!
Do you have questions about Presidential history and artifacts? Tomorrow, the Presidential Libraries of the National Archives will be answering questions live for #AskaCurator Day on Twitter.
Over 600 museums from 40 countries will be participating, including our very own experts on Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry S. Truman, Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter. You can also ask curators at the National Archives Exhibits in Washington, D.C.
Museum Objects from the Presidential Libraries:
Rocking Chair used by John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office; RCA Radio Microphone used by FDR to deliver some of his Fireside Chats from the White House; HMS Resolute Desk replica at the JFK Library; Portrait by Octavio Ocampo presented to President Carter on the occasion of a state dinner honoring José López Portillo, President of Mexico, February 1979; 1957 Inaugural gown of Mamie Eisenhower; WWII POW Diary at the Truman Library;1952 Eisenhower campaign hat.
When the Mona Lisa Visited Washington, D.C.
First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy and French Minister of Culture André Malraux stand before the Mona Lisa at the opening of a temporary exhibition of the painting at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. President Kennedy delivered remarks at the opening ceremony on January 8, 1963.
Betty Ford enlisted the aid of David Jones, a floral designer and interior decorator from Los Angeles, to put together decorations for this dinner honoring the Shahahshah and Empress of Iran. It was a white tie event, and one of the more formal dinners that the Fords would host.
The garden-themed decor featured bronze sculptures on loan from the Corcoran Gallery of Art. Dating from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they were designed by American artists Robert Ingersoll Aitken, Abstenia St. Leger Eberle, Janet Scudder, and Bessie Potter Vonnoh. Each sculpture was placed on a low platform surrounded by greenery and candles.
Garlands draped on the back of the chairs and around the room finished the decor. The garden theme carried outside of the State Dining Room as well with the addition of trees and planters in the Cross Hall.
Although the Johnson china with its wildflower pattern was often used at state dinners, for this one the meal was served on the Truman china with its green border. The Kennedy crystal and Monroe vermeil completed the table settings.
Mona Lisa in Washington
For 27 days, the Mona Lisa was lent to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC for a very special one picture loan. This special exhibition was arranged by the White House and was viewed by 518,525 people in Washington before it traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York from February 7-March 4, 1963.
Unveiling of the Mona Lisa. President Kennedy, Madame Malraux, French Minister of Cultural Affairs Andre Malraux, Mrs. Kennedy, Vice President Johnson. Washington, D.C., National Gallery of Art., 01/08/1963
On December 2, 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency opened for work for the first time. Earlier that year, President Richard Nixon and Congress had established the EPA with overwhelming support from the public.
It may be hard to imagine that before 1970, a factory could spew black clouds of toxic into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby stream, and that was perfectly legal. They could not be taken to court to stop it.
The pictures shown here are from the EPA’s 1970s photography project, DOCUMERICA. These shots were selected from the “In Praise of Forests” collection: Forest snail on an alder leaf, Alder Catkins on the ice, Mushroom lit briefly by the sun, Seedlings.
Happy anniversary to the EPA!
Inspired by these photos? The National Archives in collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency is inviting students aged 13 and up to snap a picture, write a poem, or create a video that is inspired by one of our many Documerica photos and enter it into the Document Your Environment contest on Challenge.gov.
Look who’s judging: Graphic artist and former Documerica photographer, Michael Philip Manheim, will judge the Graphic Art category; Cokie Roberts, author and news analyst for National Public Radio and ABC News will judge the Video category; and Sandra Alcosser, the first Poet Laureate of Montana and professor of poetry at San Diego State University will judge the poetry category. A finalist will be chosen for each category in each of the three age groups, and one grand prize winner will be chosen by the Archivist of the United States, David Ferriero. The grand prize winner will also be awarded $500, courtesy of the Foundation for the National Archives.
Jacqueline Kennedy with the Mona Lisa
Here’s a photo of First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy attending the opening of the Mona Lisa exhibit at the National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. January 8, 1963.
Happy birthday Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis!
-via the Kennedy Presidential Library
It’s the birthday of Jacqueline Kennedy - born Jacqueline Lee Bouvier on July 28, 1929 in Southhampton, New York. At age 31 she became the First Lady of the United States, a role she filled with her passion for history and the arts.
Jacqueline’s first major project as first lady was to restore and preserve the White House. She enlisted the aid of many experts, established a White House Fine Arts Committee, and created the post of White House curator. Gathering outstanding examples of American art and furniture from around the United States (including many items that had belonged to former presidents and their families), she restored all the public rooms in the White House.
The results of her work are still visible in Lafayette Square, across from the White House in Washington, D.C. While she was first lady, she helped to stop the destruction of historic buildings along the square, including the Renwick Building, now part of the Smithsonian Institution. In New York City, she led a campaign to save and renovate Grand Central Station. Today, more than 500,000 people pass through each day and enjoy its restored beauty, thanks to her efforts.
Jacqueline Kennedy captivated the nation and the rest of the world with her intelligence, beauty, and grace.
Happy birthday, Jackie!
And for those of us who can’t get enough of JBK (and really, who can?), we recommend exploring the Kennedy Library’s Life of Jacqueline B. Kennedy.